Pay-to-Win Status: Negative
Not to say the game doesn't practically beg for money, but I'll get to that in the last section. It's just that this game isn't very complicated. With how basic the modes are, there is little strategy involved in actual gameplay other than making sure you capture the right thing at the right time and are able to kill people. If you're just flailing around wildly and couldn't punch your way out of a paper bag, then of course you'll lose. I count this as a plus because not everyone wants to have to do a bunch of tutorials, research, and brain surgery to be able to start playing a game. You can't buy power with money on this game, but if you could? You still probably wouldn't notice.
Update Frequency: Very High
According to one player, the game updates every Tuesday and a new character is added every two weeks. So, similar to League of Legends, you can expect this game's content to balloon out pretty fast. There is talk of a lot of problems getting fixed, new modes being added, more heroes coming in, and the game generally rocking much more.
The community of this game is pretty focused. There is a lobby to talk outside of games, but it's used almost entirely for grouping up, and people rarely have actual conversations there. It's also a small community, so don't expect too much. They aren't bad, they aren't great but they are definitely...there. You may be glad to know that it is, in fact, spammer-free, though. At least, until someone reads this and rushes over to spam it.
I feel the need to say that they do make quite a few jokes in a lot of the text lines. Specifically, the loading texts. This may not be a thing they will advance on, but I do appreciate being able to chuckle everyone once in awhile.
The graphics on this game aren't anything special. They are somewhat colorful, and everything is easily recognizable, but it's nothing to gush over, and you won't be impressed by or immersed in any of them. There are no destructable environments, but the maps are functional and reasonably-sized.
Outside of the arenas, you level up and put in mastery points to specific characters. According to one player, this game currently has "infinite level ups" and therefore infinite mastery points. So many, in fact, that you can get every skill in the game for every hero as many times as you want. Each character can slot only three of the many masteries available to them so it's up to you to figure out the best configuration for each hero.
However, the actual in-game fighting isn't nearly that complicated. Getting into this game, you will find yourself stuck in a rut of running through the same paths over and over again, spamming the same skills in the same order, with the only variation being which hero you happen to be using. And even then, you can just run into battle and have this happen:
|Tentacle snare? Why does this happen to me so often?|
Disables. Snares, slows, knock-ups, knock-downs, and stuns are all things that will happen frequently, all of them stop you from doing anything, and they all last quite long. To the point where if you're getting focused by a team, you might as well just take your hands off the keyboard. This means that going around by yourself is never going to happen successfully, and being a melee hero means taking the brunt of all this.
Begging For Cash: Obviously
You can buy everything using the in-game currency (gold)...eventually. The first thing you're going to want to do is get a new hero, because the one they start you off with for doing the tutorial (Lucien) is actually the worst hero in the game, coming with no utility and specifically missing a certain kind of skill called a "perk". A "perk" is an extra skill that can only be used once a certain condition is met (for instance, get 20 assists and turn into a dragon). Lucien does a nice amount of damage, so he isn't impossible to win with, but just using him signals to some players how much of a noob you are, which isn't something you want.
So you figure you'll just buy a hero. Buying a hero will run you about 10 bucks in real money or at least 10 days of frequent play (if you do very well, you'd make about 250 gold per match, with 15 minute matches, but a hero costs 30,000 gold to buy, so let's say 30 hours of game time). In the meantime, you can either use Lucien, or use a hero when they're free. A new set of heroes goes free every week, where you can use them without having to pay gold, but you can't power them up. In other words, you're probably better off using the free heroes, but until you own them permanently, you'll be quite a bit weaker than the people who own them. So if you want to do some serious advancing without playing at least 30 hours, you have to pay up. Not only that, but currently, every new hero that comes out is coming out cash-only for a week or two before they make them available for gold.
There is a consecutive-log-in bonus for logging onto the game every day, though, and that can help a little.
One thing I should mention is that the same hero can be on the same team multiple times. You can potentially have 18 guys all using the same person. This is good since heroes aren't exactly easy to obtain, and buffing a hero you can't use would be terrible. It's also bad because having multiples of some heroes (like healers) is extremely annoying.
This annoyance is something the community takes advantage of, since you can switch heroes mid-match and people communicate with their teams to get the best results. That said, since parties and solos aren't separated in matchmaking, going solo on this game is usually a sure-fire loss. To have a chance, you have to hook up with a Warband (this game's name for a group), and play that way. As an extra incentive, you get extra gold just for playing in a party. It's hard for me to say this is a bad thing, but I like being able to just jump into a game without having to sit in the lobby typing "lf wb" until someone invites me, or sit in the lobby recruiting people.
That isn't to say that going in with a party means you'll win. It just means the probability of you winning has jumped up from 0%. The game doesn't count second place, and since there are three teams, the chance of winning is technically 33.3%, down from the usual 50% chance of normal two-team games. So you will be seeing this screen...
|Dang, Defeat? That means I didn't get as much GOLD! RAGEQUIT!!!|
Final Score: 2 out of 5
I know I should give it the benefit of the doubt since it's in open beta, but seriously, this game just isn't very fun. Most skills outside of perks are very underwhelming, and I don't get a great sense of satisfaction from killing other players in this game. Like many free-to-play MMOs, it probably gets better over time or, more specifically, if you pay cash. But if I'm not having fun from the start, what incentive do I have to keep going?
The game is sure to explode with content though, so check it in a few months and it's sure to be much better.